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Subject: Let's read Mutant Crawl Classics! rss

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True Blue Jon
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Welcome to Let's Read!

In this thread, I'll be taking a book, reading it cover to cover, and posting my thoughts. You can think of it as a long, rambling review. Anyone who wants to comment, ask questions, or generally kibbitz is welcome to do so. If you have the book yourself, then please follow along and share!

If you like this format, and want to read more threads like it, please see (and subscribe!) to this geeklist:

Master List of "Let's Read" Threads

So let's start!

First thing: The art is amazing. Like its predecessor, Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game, there is art everywhere! The Table of Contents pages have some of my favorite art in the whole book. But I can't show you every page. If you like the cover art and if you like the art in DCC RPG, you'll like the art here too.

Speaking of the TOC, this is what we get:

Foreword & Preface, page 6
Introduction, page 8
Chapter One: Character Creation, page 16
Chapter Two Character Classes, page 26
Chapter Three: Mutations, page 42
Chapter Four: Combat, page 124
Chapter Five: Archaic Alignments, page 144
Chapter Six: Artificial Intelligences, page 150
Chapter Seven: Artifacts of the Ancients, page 167
Chapter Eight: Bestiary A.D., page 188
Chapter Nine: Patron AIs, page 202
Chapter Ten: Optional Rules, page 262
Appendix "M", page 265
Assault on The Sky-High Tower, page 266

There is also an index on pages 282-283.

On the back cover are these words:

Quote:
You're no hero.

You're a wasteland wanderer:
a mutant,
a seeker,
a robot-killer,
a stoic shaman guarding
forgotten ancient sciences.

You seek triumph and technology,
winning it with mutations and
magic, soaked in the radiation
and quantum fields of the
altered, the savage, the
semi-sentient, and the
artificially intelligent.

There are artifacts of the ancients to be won
in the taboo lands, and you shall have them...

MCC RPG is a complete role playing game
of 1970s post-apocalyptic science-fantasy
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Subscribed. Do this!
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True Blue Jon
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OK, let's start with the credits.

The foreword is from James Ward, writer of Gamma World. He is a good friend of Jim Wampler, the writer of MCC RPG. Mr. Ward says the MCC RPG "does an unusually good job of covering all of the disaster genre concepts as well as adding new material for the game master to use to keep the game fresh." He goes on to say "This game breaks new ground in mutations and adds a power level other games couldn’t manage."

Then there is a preface from Jim Wampler. He says he picked up Gamma World and fell in love with it shortly after being introduced to D&D in 1979. Paraphrasing him, he goes on to say that MCC RPG is to Gamma World what DCC RPG is to D&D and that MCC RPG is "100% compatible with the DCC RPG."

After that, there is the 3-page introduction where we learn:
Quote:

The characters live after the Great Disaster in a world now known as Terra A.D. (After Disaster). The world is a lush tropical wilderness filled with plants and animals with wild unstable mutations. Many animals and plants now reason and walk upright and make use of tools. There are humans here too: pure strain humans and mutants.

The ancient ones ruled the world "with an arcane force known as technology." Many such artifacts from those days are still to be discovered.

The game purposefully does not answer any questions about the nature of the Great Disaster or even if the planet is Earth. However, the artifacts discovered "are the products of a super science, and never of recognizable 21st-century manufacture."

The setting is "of a rudimentary Stone Age level of civilization."


Then there is a bit of mechanics and differences from RPGs you may have played before.

Quote:
You roll a d20 and try to roll equal to or higher than a Difficulty Class. If you do, you succeed.

A roll of 1 is an automatic miss and often results in a fumbling failure of some kind.

A roll of 20 is an automatic hit and often results in a critical success of some kind.

Occasionally a character may roll a die other than 1d20 when acting.


Differences from the d20 system:

Quote:
MCC RPG does not have prestige classes, attacks of opportunity,
feats, or skill points.

Pure strain humans select from one of four classes at 1st level. For mutants, manimals, and plantients, their race and their class are the same thing.

There are critical hit tables in MCC RPG. Higher-level characters and martial characters generate critical hits more often and roll on more deadly result tables. Mutated monsters and artificial intelligences have their own critical hit tables.

In MCC RPG, PCs can burn off ability scores to enhance some dice rolls. All characters can burn Luck, and shamans, mutants, manimals, and plantients can burn other abilities.

Some mechanics of note:

Quote:
Healers’ naturopathy abilities are quick, near-instant healing abilities derived from an oral tradition of local herb use and biofeedback techniques.

Shamans’ wetware programs are cast with a program check, where the caster rolls 1d20, adds certain modifiers, and tries to score high. The higher the roll the more effective the result. Each wetware program has a unique chart that adjudicates the spell’s results.

Shamans may or may not lose their wetware programs from memory after a casting. A low result means the shaman cannot run the program again that day. On a high result, they can run the program again.

Shamans’ wetware programs are always granted to a shaman by a Patron AI (sentient super-intelligent computer system).


EDIT: Trying to format this better so it's easier to read.
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True Blue Jon
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My thoughts:

We're not in the meat of things yet but it has one thing already that I really like in an RPG: a vague setting. I like how the Great Disaster is not defined. However, I don't like how they then start to define this setting. The whole planet is a tropical jungle. Civilization is in the stone age. Artifacts can't be recognizable but instead are super science.

All the definitions of the setting in this book so far will be thrown out in my campaign.

What are your thoughts so far?
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Dan Conley
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Very cool! Thanks for doing this. I recently got my copy of the book from the KS campaign, but haven’t really looked at it much yet.
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I hear what your saying but look at it this way; with absolutely zero definition what would the setting sound like?
"Something happen some place, it was really really bad. This is the story of those living generations away from the event dealing with it."
That doesn't give enough traction for the imagination enough to go on.
I absolutely agree that when running a campaign you make this what you want. I actually prefer when I heard Jim describe this game based on the movies and books that inspired him. That left it more open for interpretation. However, they had to put this world together into something the can be picked up and played by the masses.

In short, I only read world descriptions for inspiration.
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How do we stay together in this book club?
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quozl wrote:
We're not in the meat of things yet but it has one thing already that I really like in an RPG: a vague setting.


Couldn't agree more. I find things like Forgotten Realms or Star Wars stifling at best. Too much baggage. Conveying a play style is more useful than a setting. I'm going to suggest a skip ahead to Appendix M for more style insight.
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What's your first reaction to this game being designed to be compatible with DCC?
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cosine wrote:
I'm going to suggest a skip ahead to Appendix M for more style insight.


After reading N0mE's comment, I had decided the same thing. Here's Appendix "M":

Quote:
BOOKS
Starship (a.k.a. Non-Stop) by Brian Aldiss
Hothouse (a.k.a. The Long Afternoon of Earth) by Brian Aldiss
Daybreak - 2250 A.D. (a.k.a. Star Man’s Son) by Andre Norton
No Night Without Stars by Andre Norton
Hiero’s Journey by Sterling E. Lanier
The Unforsaken Hiero by Sterling E. Lanier
The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance
Empire of the East trilogy by Fred Saberhagen

COMICS
Kamandi The Last Boy on Earth by Jack Kirby
Cobalt-60 by Vaughn Bode, Mark Bode, and Larry Todd
Mighty Samson by Otto Binder and Frank Thorne

MOVIES
Planet of the Apes (1968)
The Omega Man (1971)
Zardoz (1974)
A Boy and His Dog (1975)
Wizards (1977)
Damnation Alley (1977)

TV SHOWS
The Starlost (1973)
Thundarr the Barbarian (1980-82)


I have read Starship, Star Man’s Son, Hiero’s Journey, The Unforsaken Hiero, the Dying Earth series, the Empire of the East trilogy, and the Kamandi comics. I have watched Planet of the Apes, A Boy and His Dog, Wizards, and Damnation Alley.

What all have you read and watched from these lists?
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cosine wrote:
What's your first reaction to this game being designed to be compatible with DCC?


My first reaction is that it's great. However, my reaction changes when we get to the character classes.
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quozl wrote:

What all have you read and watched from these lists?


I am a bad geek. Usually I've perused a few items on lists like this.

I've watched Planet of the Apes, own Zardoz, and while I haven't read Dying Earth, I do own the RPG.
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I know;

Planet of the Apes (1968)
The Omega Man (1971)
Zardoz (1974)
A Boy and His Dog (1975)
Wizards (1977)
Damnation Alley (1977)
Thundarr the Barbarian (1980-82)

I'm very familiar with Gamma World across many versions as well as
Metamorphosis Alpha Roleplaying Game, too.
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Starship (a.k.a. Non-Stop) by Brian Aldiss
The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance
Kamandi The Last Boy on Earth by Jack Kirby
Cobalt-60 by Vaughn Bode, Mark Bode, and Planet of the Apes (1968)
The Omega Man (1971)
Zardoz (1974)
Wizards
Thundarr the Barbarian (1980-82)

Here's me...
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tdphillips wrote:
Usually I've perused a few items on lists like this.


Haha I was thinking the same thing. I don't believe I've read anything in the book part of the list.
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quozl wrote:
My thoughts:

We're not in the meat of things yet but it has one thing already that I really like in an RPG: a vague setting. I like how the Great Disaster is not defined. However, I don't like how they then start to define this setting. The whole planet is a tropical jungle. Civilization is in the stone age. Artifacts can't be recognizable but instead are super science.

All the definitions of the setting in this book so far will be thrown out in my campaign.

What are your thoughts so far?


I don't have an issue with this. It still seems like a vague setting to me. I don't know how they could make it much vaguer without making it NO setting.

A detailed setting, to me, is one where there's a definite geography, with cities and landmarks, all with their own names. And important NPCs, all with their own names and motivations. And many years of fictional history, most of which doesn't impact play in any way.

The part with shamans running wetware sounds interesting. Are they cyborgs or something? Regardless, mechanically it's just DCC spellcasting by another name.

I generally like race-as-class, and it seems fine here.
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dysjunct wrote:
I don't have an issue with this. It still seems like a vague setting to me. I don't know how they could make it much vaguer without making it NO setting.
I agree. The map, for example, has absolutely no information on it other than "geography" (using that term loosely). Terra A.D. to my mind is more concept of what the game is supposed to be about then setting proper.
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dysjunct wrote:
quozl wrote:
My thoughts:

We're not in the meat of things yet but it has one thing already that I really like in an RPG: a vague setting. I like how the Great Disaster is not defined. However, I don't like how they then start to define this setting. The whole planet is a tropical jungle. Civilization is in the stone age. Artifacts can't be recognizable but instead are super science.

All the definitions of the setting in this book so far will be thrown out in my campaign.

What are your thoughts so far?


I don't have an issue with this. It still seems like a vague setting to me. I don't know how they could make it much vaguer without making it NO setting.

A detailed setting, to me, is one where there's a definite geography, with cities and landmarks, all with their own names. And important NPCs, all with their own names and motivations. And many years of fictional history, most of which doesn't impact play in any way.

The part with shamans running wetware sounds interesting. Are they cyborgs or something? Regardless, mechanically it's just DCC spellcasting by another name.

I generally like race-as-class, and it seems fine here.

Here, this is what I was saying.

Ok, lets go on to the next thing.
I'm curious what you think of the classes as you hinted at earlier.
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dysjunct wrote:
I don't know how they could make it much vaguer without making it NO setting.


As we go on, I think we'll see more specific "general info". Gamma World's Cryptic Alliances are here Archaic Alignments. And DCCs Patrons are here as Patron AI. Those put a lot of color in.
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I was nitpicking and stating my biases up front. MCC gets a 9 out of 10 for me on the vague setting scale. No setting at all would rate a perfect 10 for me.
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Chapter One: Character Creation

All of the chapters start with a black page with a quote on it and then a full page of art facing it. It's cool. Chapter One has the text from the back cover of the book. "You're no hero...."

We're first told that MCC RPG uses zero-level characters (like DCC RPG) and that each player should roll up about 3 and that most of them will die in the Rite of Passage. Then we're told the steps to create a character:

1. Roll ability scores.
2. Adjust ability score modifiers, attack scores, and saving throws.
3. Roll 0-level hit points using 1d4.
4. Roll for beginning profession and equipment.
5. Roll Birth Sign.
6. Roll twice for additional beginning equipment.
7. Roll genotype.
8. Determine genotype appearance or sub-type, if any.
9. Choose an Archaic Alignment.

But before we get to that, we're introduced to the MCC RPG system.

Like DCC, MCC uses weird dice: d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24, d30 in addition to the "normal" d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20. They also use a dice chain so that a bonus to your roll may mean you moving up the dice chain instead of getting a bonus to your roll. For example, if you normally roll a d20 to attack and get you a dice chain bonus (+1d) then roll a d24 instead.

Noe back to character creation. Roll 3d6 for each of your ability scores: Strength, Agility, Stamina, Personality, Intelligence, and Luck. These work just like they do in DCC. Next is the Ability Score Modifiers table. Each score you rolled gets a modifier and the table goes up to ability scores of 24. We also learn that scores also determine your Max Tech Level, Max Wetware Programs, and Max Wetware Program Level.

Note: It is possible to roll up a "stillborn". If your Stamina modifier is low enough and you roll low enough for your HP, you can end up with zero or less HP. The book says to treat this character as stillborn and roll up a new character.

OK, how about those occupations? You can be a hunter with a spear or a gatherer with a sack. 50/50 chance.

Now roll for your Birth Sign. If you have a Luck modifier, your Lucky Sign does something in whatever you roll. If not, it doesn't.

Then there's beginning equipment. You can roll a weapon, armor, or other assorted items (even a pet telepathic rat)!

Then it tells how saving throws work. Then it talks about languages. All characters know Nu-Speak and smart ones can learn the language of their Archaic Alignment. Rovers learn a secret language called Security Access. Additional languages are those of specific genotypes and shamans can learn programming languages and the guttural tongues of semi-sentient species.

Genotypes! Roll to see if you're a pure strain human, a mutant, a manimal, or a plantient. A mutant then rolls on the mutant appearance table, a manimal rolls on the manimal sub-type table, and a plantient rolls on the plantient sub-type table.

Then we learn that zero-level characters have to go through a rite of passage adventure, after which they will become level 1, choose a class (if they're human) or get their class benefits (if they're not human), and become a Seeker, tasked by the tribe to search out valuable artifacts.

There is also a note that old DCC alignments do not apply in MCC and that wetware programs are spells.

We also learn how to gain experience and advance in levels.
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My thoughts:

The organization is a bit lacking here with things not presented in the order of the nice list at the beginning. It's fine but it could be better.

Most of this is just like in DCC. The differences are the occupations and the genotypes. In DCC, you had a ton of occupations and I would have preferred to see a bunch here too. The different genotypes with the different appearances is different from DCC by necessity and I think it's done well here. Some might want the appearances to give some kind of mechanical difference in the characters but I think that might be too much alongside the crazy mutations you can get.

What do you all think so far?
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Birth Sign is weird in a post-apoc setting. I associate it more with fantasy, where astrology is actually true instead of silly.

Wetware programs being spells seems kind of lazy to me.
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cosine wrote:
dysjunct wrote:
I don't know how they could make it much vaguer without making it NO setting.


As we go on, I think we'll see more specific "general info". Gamma World's Cryptic Alliances are here Archaic Alignments. And DCCs Patrons are here as Patron AI. Those put a lot of color in.
I hadn't thought about it this way, Eric, but you are of course correct. Setting is not limited to just the stuff in the "Setting" section.
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At first I wasn't sure about the either Hunter or Gatherer thing.
But then I found it to be a novel way to quickly get 0 levels rolled up and ready for action. Essentially, they are nobodies that are just surviving, so why spend time making a huge back story.

I don't know how I feel about the wet-magic thing.
Why have magic at all just dump all the cool stuff into more technology.
On the other hand, this is supposed to be a re-skin of DCC so you need to have a cross over equivalent to magic and Patrons.
Overall, it's fine.

Me and some friends actually sat around just rolling up random level zeros.
It was really fun.
After we rolled up some mutants and Plant folk, you can start to imagine the silly situations that could come up.

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